Once I read a book about a child who was kidnapped (I can’t read those kinds of books anymore, so this must have been many years ago). The boy was kidnapped as a toddler, and they brainwashed him. They gave him a new name, they called themselves his Mum and Dad, they created an entire life for him. From the outside, it was so normal – school, baseball, family suppers – and they were satisfied that he had forgotten his old life and that this was their happily ever after.

But there was still something there, buried deep in his heart, he knew that something wasn’t right. He had dreams of his old life, recurring dreams of his mother and his father, his old room. And even though he was happy and his kidnappers were rather good to him, he wasn’t surprised, not one bit, to eventually discover that he had been kidnapped and that his entire life was a lie. When he finally was restored to his real home, every one worried about how it would go because, really, they were all strangers to him. But he saw his real mother, his real father, and he saw his home and he wept and simply said that he always knew, he always knew, the truth was there in his heart the whole time.

I sometimes feel that way about us and God. I feel like maybe we’re all exiles. 

We think we’re in our regular life, our real life, but there is this thing, this sense, this memory of something better, something more, something that is everything good and perfect still stuck in our hearts.

And even when everything is good or we’ve achieved everything we ever wrote on our Bucket List or pinned onto Pinterest boards or we accomplish some long list of the world’s version of success and we achieve celebrity or money or the house with the kids and the dog, we still know, deep in our hearts, we’re exiles and something, something isn’t right here.

It’s not enough. All of the stuff, all of the things, all of the experiences, all of the good or the thrilling or sexy stuff in the world is a smokescreen of goodness. It’s an approximation of something real to convince every one else that we’re fine, we’re normal but really we’re walking around and we know the whole time that we don’t quite fit, we know something is off, we know we’re not where we belong.

The memory of God’s kingdom is there. 

It’s there in the stuff of the soul, the tendrils of the spirit. Like the Psalmist sang, we’re like those that dream of home. It’s submerged somewhere in our brain or our soul perhaps, but we know, we know, the truth is there, in your heart, the whole time.

We see glimpses of it, we’re reminded, we have a hunch or a memory we can’t quite grasp if we try to look at it full on. It drifts like smoke or storms in like flashes of lightening-insight or takes our breath: we make love, we learn, we sing, we watch the stars come out, we care, we connect, we labour, we carry, we nurse, we cry, we dance, we witness restoration in a million tiny ways.

We have these moments of transcendence, like the veil between heaven and earth is fluttering, we can’t breathe for the loveliness of the world and each other, and just like that, we remember something. 

Our skin is made of dust and we often catch the perfumed scent of the Garden in the cool of the evening, and we know, somewhere inside, we’re supposed to be walking with God, unashamed still.

I wonder if that’s really what happens when we meet Jesus. It’s not that we meet him, or that we believe in him, or that we “invite him into our hearts” or that we mentally assent to some non-negotiable truths that will govern your best life now.

No, I think it’s that we recognise him. 

I think that part of soul, our spirit, our bodies, our minds, locks into focus. It wasn’t a dream, no, that is what is real. When we cross the threshold of faith, we enter into an awareness that the Kingdom of God has already come.

And we realise, Oh, my God, I always knew, I always knew, the truth was there, in my heart, the whole time. We couldn’t articulate it, if we tried to say it out loud it sounded foolish. So instead the inexplicable longing resides until it is fulfilled: the Kingdom of God. Love, hope, joy, peace, kindness, all of it. This is what God intended for us. This is what we are moving towards, every day, the restoration of this beautiful home, the redemption of all of us, the rescue of all of us from the false life that we think is real. We were made for this life instead. We’re home.

edited from the archives

 

"People with guns to their heads cannot mourn" :: a response to Doctor Who, Mummy on the Orient Express
More than metaphors: on bearing witness to baptism
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  • Love this Sarah, absolutely spot on. We make so much of what our culture tells us makes our lives whole – and that yearning for something more is a yearning for God, whether we know it or not. Thanks for this.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    We so often forget that this life here is temporary… I love this post that so beautifully reminds us that while we are living eteranl lives now, this is not our home… and we know it, we just forget!

  • Yes! I get these moments when I’m in the stillness of the beauty of nature. I stand around, marveling at God and remember “if this world is this beautiful, then Home must look something a little bit like this, but better!” It creates that gentle urgency and excitement within.

    • I have had that same thought. I don’t know if you read John Blase’s blog or follow him on Facebook, but he posted this beautiful picture of a pathway filled with the golden leaves of aspen trees in Colorado, it was absolutely electrifying with the beauty and he said something like maybe we need to rethink what God meant by streets of gold. I love that idea!

      • I hadn’t heard of him! I will definitely have to check him out. And yes, I totally agree. As Anne with an “e” said: I’m glad we live in a world where there are Octobers. As many of us who have a heart-felt passion for this month, I can’t imagine living without one!

  • I said “amen” aloud, by myself in my office. I love and affirm these words. Thank you so much for writing, always.

  • Orton1227

    This is better than any theological book I’ve read this year. Thank you Sarah! We need these pictures, thoughts, stories.

  • Jenni Claar

    I just read this C.S. Lewis quote this morning minutes before I read your blog post:

    “The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.”

    This was a beautiful confirmation for me today – thank you.

    • What a beautiful quote! Thank you for sharing that, jenni!

  • So in line with what I’ve been coming to learn — listening to C. Baxter Kruger and coming to believe that Jesus has already brought us home…we just don’t know it…until we do. Until we snap out of the trance we call life and realize — woah, I’m already here! I’ve been here all along and didn’t have eyes to see or ears to hear the truth.

    It’s very “Matrix”-like, isn’t it? Only our reality isn’t a post-apocalypse existence with the remnant “plug” in the back of our head and the food “sustains life” but looks like a cross between tapioca pudding and cream of wheat. But it isn’t “streets of gold by and by” either. It’s right now, where we are, where Father, Son and Spirit surround us with loving presence as we journey the path unfolding before us.

    🙂

    • I’ve had a book by Kruger sitting here for the longest time – this makes me want to pick it up and get after it! Love that. And yes, it is totally like the Matrix, no wonder so many folks preached out of that movie for so long, eh?

  • I have chills. This is one of my favorite posts from you, Sarah. (Add it to your *favourites* list!)

  • Donna-Jean Brown

    Yes, yes – learning to live with the unfulfilled longing for home, and yet meanwhile to recognize that familiar Face whenever S/He appears.

  • Renee

    Beautiful post

  • Elise Erikson Barrett

    So beautiful…reminds me of that line in Screwtape where the protagonist, moments after death, recognizes the angels that are attending him, and then Jesus…

  • Naomi

    Beautiful. I am a new reader of yours and I love your writing because it so often puts words to deep feelings, impressions, longings that I have, but am not able to articulate. Keep writing.

  • Thanks, Sarah! I think we so often bury this deep longing for God/Heave/Home by going after another level of wordly “success.” We get married, have children, chase promotions, or donate money hoping that the void in our hearts will finally be filled. And then we’re discouraged that we still feel a void. It’s when we truly still our hearts and answer to God’s call that we find fulfillment.

  • This makes me think of Mary at the tomb, or of those two travelers on the road to Emmaus. Thank you, dear Sarah.

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  • Well said. I love hearing a similar message from different people- just returned from retreat with Stasi Eldredge who speaks of similar things- invitating women to pay attention to their heart/ longings/ desires as they will tell you about the life/role you are meant to live

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  • Lovely.

  • sarah

    This took my breath away…

  • May I offer a link to a poem I wrote last week that is in the same vein (I think)? http://biblicaljoe.com/flirting-god

  • pastordt

    LOVE this, Sarah. Thank you.

  • I pray this is true. I am thankful for people like you who believe this when I do not, cannot.

    Thank you.

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  • Sarah, this post. This. This is my heart. I cannot even explain. Ugh. My Charlie died two and a half months ago, and this post is my everyday. Thank you, friend whom I’ve never met. Thank you, sister. This is it. He is already home. I am just aching for the day when I can be there too with him.

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